01/27/09 11:22 AM EST
Yanks optimistic about Posada, Rivera
Club hopeful catcher, closer will be ready for Opening Day
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The Yankees hope it stays that way.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "We will definitely go into Spring Training with concerns about the health of two extremely important positions on any team that wants to get to the promised land."
Posada has been working out at the Yankees' Tampa, Fla., complex and recently increased his throwing to 90 feet, though he checked in at Yankee Stadium on Monday and did his throwing for the day there.
The 37-year-old catcher underwent season-ending right shoulder surgery on July 30, cutting short a campaign that saw his throwing hampered by general weakness. Posada will not be ready to catch in exhibition games at the beginning of Spring Training but is on track to be available for the start of the regular season.
Cashman said that Rivera has not yet started his throwing program, but the Yankees are cautiously optimistic that he will be ready for the beginning of the season.
The 39-year-old closer had a procedure in October to remove a calcified joint from his right shoulder, an issue that had bothered him through most of the season. He will be classified as a rehab player in Spring Training, though Rivera typically does not pitch many innings in the Grapefruit League and skips all road trips.
"It's very early in the process for those guys," Cashman said. "I do have concerns just because we have a closer who we desperately need who is coming off shoulder surgery, no matter how minor it may be.
"I have a catcher who is a perennial All-Star and one of the premier players at that position in this game -- a potential Hall of Fame candidate -- that we definitely need to come back. He's rehabbing a significant shoulder surgery and it is going well so far."
Cashman also noted that Hideki Matsui was rehabbing well before returning to Japan for the winter. The 34-year-old outfielder underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late September after the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention.
Matsui is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Cashman said he had less concerns about Matsui, since he had a similar procedure on his right knee after the 2007 season.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.